SINGAPORE - Members of the Indian community here sang and danced on Friday evening to usher in the Deepavali weekend.
Cultural performances along Campbell Lane in Little India also attracted an audience of shopkeepers, tourists and visitors, who all gathered to enjoy the community celebration.
Organised by the Indian Heritage Centre together with Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association (LISHA), Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA), Mediacorp OLI 96.8FM and other precinct stakeholders, the community celebration was one held concurrently to celebrate Deepavali and Little India being named the 19th coolest neighbourhood in the world by London-based media firm Time-Out.
Street performances, including dancing to urumi drumming, showcased India’s rich heritage and had everyone who walked past the Indian Heritage Centre dancing and cheering along.
One of the urumi drummers, Arinnjaay Kanan, said this year’s celebrations were especially exciting because Covid-19 had limited Deepavali celebrations in the past two years, and he was looking forward to performing at this year’s celebrations.
“My Indian heritage is important to me, and I feel strongly about our traditional arts. I feel like it is my responsibility to bring tradition back with each performance,” the 18-year-old added.
Having played percussion instruments since he was 9, Mr Arinn started his own urumi group, Singai Jaay Muzhakam, with four of his friends. The group, now consisting of 15 members, performs year round at various Indian celebrations.
Members of the audience who happened to walk past the event were met with bright lights and Indian tunes, and quickly joined in the celebrations.
“After the pandemic, this is really the best way to celebrate. The Indian diaspora is made up of so many different ethnicities... Deepavali has really united the Indian community and it is nice to see everyone come together,” said Malene Waters, 31, who came specifically for the event.
Another visitor to Little India said that she felt so happy to see everyone celebrating.
Suganthi Ganesan, 24, said: “I feel proud to be an Indian, I love our culture. It is nice to see everyone come together in such an environment.”
The festivities ended with a dance party. Performers and emcees invited members of the audience to join them on stage and dance to traditional Indian tunes.
Singapore Indian Development Association CEO Anbarasu Rajendran, who told The Straits Times that this celebration represented a re-emergence of India’s culture and heritage, added: “The most heartwarming thing is that there are so many youngsters at this event. It is nice to see them feel such strong pride for their culture and really champion their Indian identity.”